Our Living Compass Lenten booklet for this year focused on the theme of "Practicing Resilience with All Our Heart, Soul, Strength, and MInd." We have been inspired by the responses from people across the country who have shared with us their own journeys of resilience this Lent. In my work as both a priest and a psychotherapist, I have had the privilege of walking with many individuals, families, and congregations over the years as they have demonstrated great courage in being able to bounce back and recover from difficult challenges as well. I have always been curious as to why some individuals, families, and congregations are able to be resilient, while others struggle to bounce back. As I reflect on the multitude of stories that I have heard it is clear that promoting and living into resiliency is an important and multifaceted endeavor, one that truly affects all dimensions of a person's life--heart, soul, strength, and mind.
There are several popular books that have been written recently about resilience. These books all agree on a few key practices that help aid the development of resiliency, all of which take commitment and perseverance. These practices include:
- Learning to let go
- Accepting "what is"
- Practicing patience
- Staying connecting to others
- Getting adequate rest, exercise, and practicing overall self-care
In light of the celebration of Easter this coming Sunday, I would like to suggest one more practice that I believe is the most important of all, and that is "Practicing resurrection." To practice resurrection means to make a commitment to put into practice core beliefs of the Easter story of hope and of life after disappointment, loss and death. The first step is to believe in resurrection, the second step is to put this belief into practice.
The resurrection of Jesus is God's hopeful gift to us and to the world. It is up to us to decide whether we will choose to receive, embrace and live into this gift of hopefulness. It is our choice to decide whether each day we will look at the possibilities of new beginnings and of hopeful new ways of looking at the world, our own lives, our own relationships, and our own communities.
Practicing resurrection elevates resilience to a whole new level. While the most commonly recognized meaning of resilience is to "bounce back," resurrection is much more than merely bouncing back. Resurrection is bouncing forward, not only recovering from a loss or difficult time, but also eventually transcending that loss and moving into a whole new, deeper way of living. Resurrection is not about getting our old life back, but getting a whole new life that transcends, and yet at the same time honors and includes memories of the old one. An organization, for example, that practices this kind of resilience is an organization that honors it's past traditions, while at the same time finds new ways to live out its mission and purpose today.
In the Gospel reading for this Easter Sunday, when Mary first sees the resurrected Jesus she does not recognize him. This is because he is not the person he was. Instead, he has been raised to new life; a life that is both connected to his previous life and yet at the same time is brand new. A Christian understanding of resilience then means to discover a life that is connected to our past and yet at the same time is brand new. God is always creating that new life in and around us. It is up to us to recognize it, to practice it, and to share it with others, not just on Easter, but throughout the year.
We at Living Compass wish all of you a happy and joyous Easter season.